Eyeconic: An Important Tool to Address Online Shopping

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO June 04, 2013

Have you ever heard this conversation in your dispensary?

Optical staff: Let’s pick 3–5 of your favorite styles and then go through your best lens options.

Patient: No, that’s OK. I’m going to shop around—I think all I need is a copy of my prescription and something called a PD measurement.

As we all know, this is the patient who is about to shop online.

It should come as no surprise but online optical competitors are turning up the marketing heat on our patients. And now, in case you missed it, several major competitors have recently made the industry news headlines.

  • Essilor/EyeBuyDirect.com
    In a move that broadens its presence in the internet e-commerce realm, particularly in the international arena, Essilor has acquired a majority stake in EyeBuyDirect.com.

  • Wellpoint
    BCBS will include 1-800-CONTACTS as an in-network provider of contact lenses on its vision plans and will create a vision care advisory board.

  • MESVision
    A national vision benefit company has announced the launch of MESVisionOptics.com. MESVision Optics is a contact lens website where members can order their contact lenses online. The new website will allow members to have little to no out-of-pocket cost at the time of checkout when they apply their eligible contact lens benefits, the company said.

  • Coastal
    The online eyewear provider opens its first U.S. production and distribution facility, which operates 24/7.

  • Warby Parker (Article #1, Article #2)
    Warby Parker opens brick-and-mortar stores "described a convergence happening between e-commerce and retail as well as fashion and technology."


Needless to say, the intention of these online competitors is to come between the doctor and the patient, to insert their definition of value, and to gain the profit from the material sale.

Your practice might be a lot like mine. So far, the online impact has been relatively small. However, recent studies have shown declining capture rates for independent doctors. Further, all signs point toward continued growth in online optical purchasing and major competitors seem intent on cutting the doctor out of the loop. If this is a looming trend, what is your strategy to manage this competitive threat?

If you are unsure, I suggest you consider that Eyeconic is the only national site that includes the doctor. In fact, I would challenge you to identify another one that involves the doctor in the online order.

In the Eyeconic model, the doctor dispenses the glasses giving them another chance to connect with a patient. If patients are searching for specific products, they are referred to a local doctor. In all cases, Eyeconic seeks to keep these patients engaged with the doctor and online revenue in the practice rather than going to competitors.

The Internet is not going away and an increasing number of patients and clients are demanding an online alternative. Both the national Eyeconic website and customizable eStores allow doctors to offer an online option, help with retention, and keep valuable revenue in our practices. To meet the needs of the committed online shopper, VSP will enable members to use their benefit online with Eyeconic. There is no intention to drive patients from the doctor’s dispensary to the Internet, but rather, to enhance our connection with this emerging subset of patients.

As I See It, we need to understand what our patients are looking for and use that information to guide practice decision making. Online ordering may or may not be a trend that concerns your practice, but if it does, VSP has developed tools to help you manage it. I encourage you listen carefully to your patients and decide whether you should consider using Eyeconic as a strategic tool in your practice.

Watch this short, but very informative, video clip for specific details about Eyeconic and eStores, including reimbursement information.

Looking for more information about Eyeconic? Visit the Eyeconic section under Programs on VSPOnline at eyefinity.com (log in required) or call 1.855.EYECONIC.

***Update, April 2015***
To meet evolving consumer demands, improvements are continually being made to the eyeconic.com shopping experience. For consumers who wish to shop online, we want to offer the choice and convenience they expect from an online store as well as the confidence that they’re supported by the expert service and care of a VSP network provider. Please feel free to call 1-855-393-2664 or email info@eyeconic.com for more information about these changes.   


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